I spend a lot of time talking with customers and my team about transformation. How we can transform IT, how we can transform our relationship with our customers, and how can we transform our business to continue to compete and win. That’s a lot of transformation, but how often do we think about transforming ourselves? I think EMC had their choice of tag lines for EMC World 2012 just right, “Transform IT, Transform Business, Transform Yourself”. I haven’t really thought about that last bit until I actually took some time to take a vacation this month. I’d venture that we as an industry, peer group, employees, whatever, can’t accomplish the first two transformations without spending some time on the third, ourselves. I’ve let myself and this blog down in this area the last year or so and it took leaving the laptop and cell phone off for a week to figure that out.
I’m writing this post and making it public because I believe doing so will help keep me accountable. I’m not one to expose this kind of personal stuff willy nilly so this is a big thing for me. Peter and I started this blog based out of many shared and varied interests, and I’ve rambled on about work off and on since we started, nary a post about those other things that are important to me. That’s got to change, in the interest of this blog, and more importantly, in the interest of my sanity and life enjoyment. Peter’s been doing yeoman’s work lately sharing all sorts of interesting things, and he’s shamed me a bit into doing my part. Thanks Peter, sincerely. I have been self-censoring, asking myself, “Who would want to read this, who am I to talk about this?”. Well, I won’t ever know the answer to either question if I don’t put something out there. So like it or not you’ll see me yammer on about music, photography, my kids, audio equipment, furniture and cabinet making, home improvement, and whatever else might strike my fancy. Oh, and more often.
Now that’s not to say all self-censoring is bad, by any means. But talking myself out of the reason why I put this blog up is defeatist. We can’t transform IT, or transform our businesses if we are timid and defeatist. We all have ideas, not all of them will find a receptive audience, and not all of them will go unchallenged, and that’s a good thing. We’ve got to open the lines of communication and put something out there, even if it may be wrong. I often tell my team, “don’t let perfection become the enemy of the good” and here I was indulging in that very behavior. I also believe that you can’t learn if you don’t make mistakes. Inactivity or declining to participate is the surest way not to make a mistake, and by extension the surest way to keep from learning.
My vacation was outstanding, not only because I got away from work, turned off the laptop, trusted my team to do the right thing in my absence, and got to spend a ton of time with my family, but also because I actually took the time to read. What an indulgence! I caught up on Stereophile, finished Chris Kyle’s “American Sniper“, spent some time with Dan Roam’s new book “Blah Blah Blah” and finally got around to reading Eric Ries’ “The Lean Startup“. An eclectic mix, but I highly recommend them all. One of the things that “The Lean Startup” really hammers home, and it’s an idea that I’ve preached often to my team and followed at work but not so much in my own transformation, is that not only is it ok to fail, but failure is good for your business, or transformation, so long as you learn from it. That’s a horrible job paraphrasing, but hopefully you get the point, the goal of an organization should be to learn, you learn through failure, so as long as you are planful about it, failure is key to helping your organization grow. I think you can apply that to any sort of transformation. I don’t do the book justice in these few sentences, but I recommend you give it a read, it might spark something for you.
I’ve increasingly focused on work these last few years, telling myself it was to get a promotion, or to better provide for my family, or whatever. I suspect most people around the world are doing similar things in these very trying economic times. It is something of an escape, but ultimately an unhealthy one I think. This has got to be about more than work, not just this blog, but how I go through life. I can’t transform anything outside of myself if I’m not growing as a person, and that is about a lot more than just my professional life. So, I’m getting back to living. Below are a few things that I’m going to work on to help with that, and I’m sharing them so you all can hold me accountable.
- Spend more time with my family
- Find ways to continue to grow as a person
- Cultivate meaningful friendships
- Work smarter
- Create a schedule and make time for what is important
- Create and stick to a budget
- Use all my vacation
Wish me luck on my transformation, and let me know if I can help you on the path to your transformation.